Anthropometric measurements can be an important factor in the performance of hockey players. There is a discussion about the height and weight of international level players. It is also important to look at body fat levels. Excess body fat would affect the hockey player's ability to move freely around the field, and the extra weight will increase fatigue. Body fat is often measured using the skinfold method, using either the sum of a certain number of sites, or using equations to convert the skinfold measures to a percentage body fat level. There are also other methods to more directly measure body fat levels. Below are some body composition results of hockey players, mostly from elite level players.
Measurements of percentage body fat vary greatly among hockey players, ranging from 8.99% ± 2.39 up to 12.3% ± 2.3 with the average of all elite players being 9.4% (Table A). The lowest female group was 16.1% using DXA while a group of senior non-elite players (age 37.3 ± 10.3 years) were 23.6% ± 4.6, with the elite players average being 17.6% (Table B).
Differences in body fat levels occur between playing positions, with forwards having the least body fat, and backs and goalkeepers having higher levels in both male and female groups (Malhotra et al., 1974; Calo et al., 2009; Sidhu and Sodhi, 1979).
Manna et al. (2011) found with increasing age and playing level, body fat levels decreased (U16 = 18.7% BF, senior = 12% BF). Time of season also affects body fat levels, with decreasing levels from pre-season through to the competition phase (Manna et al., 2010; Astorino et al., 2004; Sidhu and Sodhi, 1979). These drops could be explained by challenging preseason conditioning and demanding competition schedules, which has been coupled with reductions in muscular strength (Astorino et al., 2004).
Top finishing teams at a South African national tournament had the lowest body fat levels (Scott, 1991), indicating leanness to be essential in hockey success, although not at the risk of reductions in lean body mass which is important for strength. It is therefore important to monitor weight changes and anthropometry over a season to ensure that the weight change corresponds to fat loss and muscle gains.
Practical Guidelines for Managing body composition
The aim is to keep body fat levels low while optimising muscle mass
- Optimize dietary strategies to keep body fat levels low.
- Be aware of periodised training plans, including times of low activity e.g. tapering, injury, off-season etc.
Table A: body composition data of male hockey athletes
|Author||n||Group||Sum of skinfolds||Body fat (%)||Body fat (%) Method|
|Malhotra et al., 1974||24||Olympic level players||8.99 ± 2.39||∑3 skinfold sites|
|Sidhu et al., 1979||14||International Indian players Gp 1-high work rate (before-after)||22.3 – 21.2||9.41 – 9.16||∑10 skinfold sites|
|Gp 2-moderate work rate||19.5 – 18.9||8.81 – 8.73||∑10 skinfold sites|
|Gp 3-lowest work rate||24.1 – 24.3||9.47 – 9.58||∑10 skinfold sites|
|Team average||22.0 – 21.5||9.23 – 9.16|
|Van Erp Baart et al., 1989||8||Elite players||9.6 ± 2.8||∑4 skinfold sites|
|Scott, 1991||162||State and National players||11.1 ± 3.3||∑5 skinfold sites|
|Boyle et al., 1994||9||International level players||12.4 ± 2.4||∑4 sites|
|Manna et al., 2010||30||Indian elite players Baseline data||16.0 ± 0.5||skinfolds|
|Preparation phase||14.8 ± 1.0||skinfolds|
|Competition phase||12.3 ± 2.3||skinfolds|
|Manna et al., 2011 Total n=120||30||Indian competitive players||18.7 ± 2.0||skinfolds|
|30||15.5 ± 1.4||skinfolds|
|30||13.9 ± 1.2||skinfolds|
|30||12.0 ± 0.5||skinfolds|
|Del Coso et al, 2015||13||Spanish 1st division players||11.3 ± 4.9||Not stated|
Table B: body composition data of female hockey athletes
|Author||n||Group||Sum of skinfolds||Body fat (%)||Body fat (%) Method|
|Ready 1987||19||Canadian women's National team||18.5 ± 5.2||body density|
|Marshall & Harber 1996||75||Indoor national championship players||63.7 ± 17.5||∑5 skinfold sites|
|Sparling 1998||12||US Olympic women's team||79 ± 17 (50 – 115)||16.1 ± 4.4 17.6 ± 3.2 16.9 ± 2.6||DXA Hydrostatic weighing|
|Van Erp Baart 1989||9||Elite hockey||18.6 ± 3.4||∑4 skinfold sites|
|Astorino 2004||13||University players||18.1 ± 3.3||∑4 skinfold sites|
|Beck 2005||15||College players||21.4 ± 2.5||DXA|
|Beck 2005||21||Senior players||23.6 ± 4.6||DXA|
|Calo 2009||24||Italian National team||15.75 ± 3.2||22.8 ± 3.7||BIA|
|Wassmer 2002||37||NCAA Division II players||17.3 ± 3.8||∑7 skinfold sites|
|Krzykala 2015||17||Polish national team||7754 (g) 12.3%||DXA|
|14||Youth elite team||9129 (g) 14.6%||DXA|
- Astorino, T.A., Tam, P.A., Rietschel, J.C., Johnson, S.M., and Freedman, T.P. (2004). Changes in physical fitness parameters during a competitive field hockey season. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning. 18(4), 138-142.
- Beck, B.R., and Doecke, J.D. (2005). Seasonal bone mass of college and senior female field hockey players. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. Sep, 45(3), 347-54.
- Boyle P.M., Mahoney C.A., and Wallace W.F., (1994). The competitive demands of elite male field hockey. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 34 (3), 235–241.
- Calo, C.M., Sanna, S., Piras I.S., Pavan, P., and Vona, G. (2009). Body composition of Italian female hockey players. Biology of Sport. Jul 26 (1), 23-31.
- Del Coso, J., Portillo, J., Salinero, J.J, Lara, B., Abian-Vicen, J., and Areces, F. (2015) Caffeinated energy drinks improve high speed running in elite field hockey players. IJSNEM, Aug 3
- Krzykala, M., and Leszcynski, P. (2015). Asymmetry in body composition in female hockey players. HOMO - Journal of Comparative Human Biology, 66, 379–386.
- Malhotra, M.S., Joseph, N.T., and Gupta, J.S. (1974). Body composition and endurance capacity of Indian hockey players. Journal of Sports Medicine, 14, 272-277.
- Manna I., Khanna, G. L., and Dhara, P. C. (2010) Effect of Training on Anthropometric, Physiological and Biochemical Variables of Elite Field Hockey Players. International Journal of Sports Science and Engineering, 04 (04), 229-238.
- Manna I., Khanna, G. L., and Dhara, P. C. (2011 ) Morphological, Physiological and Biochemical Characteristics of Indian Field Hockey Players of Selected Age Groups. Al Ameen Journal of Medicine Science, 4 (4), 323-333. ISSN 0974- 1143
- Marshall, J.D., and Harber, V.J. (1996). Body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness in high performance field hockey athletes. International Journal of Sports Medicine, Oct, 17(7), 541-4.
- Ready A.E. (1987) Nutrient intake of the Canadian women's Olympic field hockey team. Canadian Home Economics Journal, 37 (1), 29–32.
- Scott P.A. (1991) Morphological characteristics of elite male field hockey players. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 31 (1), 57–61.
- Sidhu, L.S., and Sodhi, H.S. (1979). Effect of training on subcutaneous tissue of top class Indian hockey players with respect to their field positions. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. Jun, 19(2), 217-23.
- Sparling, P.B., Snow, T.K., Rosskopf, L.B., O'Donnell, E.M., Freedson, and Byrnes, W.C. (1998) Bone mineral density and body composition of the United States Olympic women's field hockey team. British Journal of Sports Medicine, Dec, 32 (4), 315-8.
- van Erp-Baart, A.M., Saris, W.H., Binkhorst, R.A., Vos, J.A.,& Elvers, J.W. (1989a). Nationwide survey on nutritional habits in elite athletes. Part I. Energy, carbohydrate, protein, and fat intake. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 10(S1), S3–S10.
- Wassmer D.J., and Mookerjee S., (2002). A descriptive profile of elite U.S. women's collegiate field hockey players. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 42 (2), 165–171.
- Hockey Player Anthropometry
- Height and Weight of Hockey Players
- Fitness Components for Field Hockey
- Fitness testing for hockey
- Olympic Games Anthropometry for other sports in 2012
- All about fitness testing, including anthropometry testing
- Also see the field hockey Fitness Rating Page
- Poll about the fitness components for field hockey